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A Call for Expressions of Interest

Centre for Rural Health – Health Practitioner Research Development Program

A Call for Expressions of Interest

Each year the University of Tasmania Centre for Rural Health (CRH) offers a small number of project-based research training opportunities linked to CRH research projects. These involve health care professionals working in short-term, remunerated, casual placements. These placements provide an opportunity for health care professionals with an interest in research to build their research skills, experience and track record through hands-on involvement under the guidance of an experienced researcher.

Many previous participants in this program have moved on to study for higher degrees, have found positions with a research component or have done further research as practitioners.

The total hours available in each project will vary depending on the demands of projects, applicant availability and the number of appointments. They are capped at 140 hours total per placement at a casual hourly rate commensurate with casual research assistant level 1.

Exact conditions of involvement will be negotiated at the time of appointment depending on the needs of the individual project and the availability and preferences of the successful applicant(s). The exact scope of the training will also depend on the particular project but will likely cover many of the basic skills required to undertake research and/or evaluation within primary health care such as research design, data collection methodologies, data analysis and reporting. 

Selection Criteria

  • A university degree in an area related to health care.
  • An understanding of, and experience in, health care.
  • A demonstrated interest in research.
  • The good fit between the applicant's skills and interests and the available projects.

Expressions of Interest: Expressions of Interest including a current CV and a covering letter briefly addressing the selection criteria and any other supporting material should reach.

Dr Chona Hannah
Phone: (03) 6324 4009
Post: University Centre for Rural Health, Locked Bag 1322, Launceston 7250

by the close of business on 18th June 2016

Please indicate which project(s) are of primary interest to you.


The topic areas have been proposed by supervisors and decided by an independent panel targeting strategic priority research areas of the CRH. In 2016 these topics will be within the following areas, subject to ethics approval being obtained, where necessary:

Allied health retention project

There is a shortage of Allied Health Professionals (AHPs) in many rural areas of Australia. Contributing to this shortage is staff turn-over or churn. A high turn-over of staff has some benefits but also a cost. New staff take time to orientate, adjust to the work setting and to settle into a new community. Losing highly skilled and experienced staff, especially those with a great deal of local knowledge built up over a period of years, can impact on service provision, continuity of care, and also disrupt local networks and channels of communication. This study aims to identify and better understand factors that keep allied health care professionals working in rural and remote areas of Tasmania. The study commenced in early 2015 and involves an on-line survey component then a follow-up interview with those participants interested in talking a little more about what has kept them working in a rural or remote area for 5 years or more. The scholar will contribute to analysing the interview data from the project.
For more information contact Associate Professor Tony Barnett:

Bowel cancer screening project

Bowel cancer is a highly preventable chronic condition, yet it's the second most common cancer after prostate cancer, with one in 12 Australians developing the disease by age 85. Currently, Tasmania has the highest bowel cancer incidence and mortality rates in Australia.

When bowel cancer is detected early, the 5-year survival rate is as high as 93%. Yet, participation rates in the National Bowel Cancer Screening Program (NBCSP) currently sit at only 36%. Tasmanian participation rates rank second highest in the nation at 41%, however marked geographical differences have been observed across the state, ranging from 49.7% to 24.4%. The reasons for these marked differences are unclear. This research will use case studies to explore these inconsistencies at a community and health service level.

For more information contact Dr Simone Lee:  

Preventable hospital admissions due to dental problems

The third most common cause of preventable hospital admissions in Australia are dental conditions. In Tasmania, it is the most common cause of preventable hospital admissions. The Centre for Rural Health has obtained access to data via AIHW on national it wishes to analyse them using one of the following potential hypotheses:

  • people from rural areas have a greater likelihood than people from metropolitan areas of needing a preventable hospital admission due to a dental cause,
  • the rate of preventable hospital admissions due to a dental cause is increasing at a faster rate in rural than metropolitan areas,
  • the length of stay in hospital after preventable hospital admissions due to a dental cause for people from rural areas is greater than for people from metropolitan areas,
  • the number and severity of adverse advents of people with preventable dental admissions hospital admissions due to a dental cause is greater for people from rural than metropolitan areas.

For more information contact A/Prof Len Crocombe:

Prevention, detection and management of caries in children: A systematic review of clinical practice guidelines

Despite being preventable, dental caries is the single most common chronic disease. Untreated dental decay results in pain which can affect eating, speaking, sleeping, concentrating, and learning. In response to these issues, some health organizations have developed clinical practice guidelines to manage and prevent its progression. In order to effectively use in clinical practice, guidelines should be rigorously developed and be consistent with the available evidence based research. The objective of this review is to compare the scope, content and consistency of published guidelines on dental caries.

For more information contact Dr Ha Hoang:  

Informal End-of-Life supports in Rural Tasmania

Most Australians would like to die at home, in the care of their family and friends. The caring role can be challenging, however, and carers and patients both require support from the surrounding community. This is especially the case in rural communities, where the distance to formal supports (hospice, hospital or even community-based palliative care services) can be great. This project looks at the role that existing community-based organisations might play in providing support to people at the end-of-life: neighbourhood houses, community gardens and other 'third' spaces that traditionally have not been recognised for the contribution they make to palliation. It aims to explore the relationships between these informal care providers with the formal healthcare providers in the region. Based in the south of the state, this project will involve qualitative research work including interviews, transcription and data analysis.

For more information contact Dr Pauline Marsh: